31 March 2010

a Grand Room:Carolina Irving


Often there are rooms that hold my attention for years. Case in point-this lofty space decorated by Carolina Irving. Most readers of design blogs, and its publications are familiar with Carolina Irving's current home- it has been in magazines, emags and blogs galore. She is not a decorator- she has an eye- as it were. She is a woman of style. I wrote about that room in New York here- saying-'The Carolina Irving home is what Rose Tarlow calls "the essence of intimacy." It is a space that exudes that certain intimacy that I admire and aspire to. We will be watching this room appear over and over again in years to come.' I was right. The fabric designer, writer,collector,fashion designer, mother's living room will grace the upcoming book-Rooms to Inspire in the City by Annie Kelly.

(photograph - Ivan Terestchenko)
 a French wallhanging ,c 1730, is mounted above the fireplace

This grand room - is Grand- and timeless. There are many facets to Irving's decoration -the strong architectural details, the vibrant use of colour-but it is the casual nonchalance that instantly invites one to linger. To stay and examine each corner for each treasure it holds. Textiles, a love evident in her current apartment, appear throughout the room : a French brocade hanging on the wall -another French brocade draping a table, a scarf covering a lamp, a Chinese rug covering an ottoman. Works of art are propped up along the walls and a few personal photographs are displayed on a small table-maintaining a personal intimacy that is unique for such a Grand room. A porcelain collection decorates the large skirted table in the center of the room. Irving's serious textile collection is accompanied by sturdy traditional English stripes on a chaise, an ottoman and a deep divan divine sofa.

Irving described the space she decorated as 'heaven on earth.' 
The angels agree.

more glimpses from the 1993 House and Garden article written by Andrew Solomon and photographed by Ivan Terestchenko.

 all of the images are by and courtesy of photographer 
Ivan Terestchenko- here and here*

 * Please contact IVAN for any use of these images.
 see the new Annie Kelly book here


  1. She is pretty brilliant. Decorator or not she has arguably the best taste in America, at least of the aristo-bohemian variety.

  2. This apartment is divine. I think I prefer it to the newer one, likely the space as much as the decorating. aw

  3. Aesthete, I prefer "un"decorator rooms. That coming from someone who does it for a living may sound off-but I am always reiterating that to my clients when certain choices are made. I think her new space is just the most perfect one I have seen in years. pgt

  4. Anon- it may be the space, I certainly love the newer one and hope to see if different photographs will give a better sense of the room proportions. Though it has been photographed a number of times it is still hard to tell. Gaye

  5. Oh Gaye, how nice to see those rooms here.
    I was mad about them from day one, and equally impressed by Ivan's photography and by Andrew Solomon's text. That level of decorating, so personal yet with a ring of authority, is fast dying out. The same may be said about the quality of writing in today's magazines~an intelligent grasp of the idiosyncratic
    is rarely encountered.

  6. I take this opportunity to express my everlasting gratitude to Deborah Webster who, not only invited me to the States and produced this wonderful story but but I owe to Deborah to have introduced me to the world of magazine photography and ultimately to photography in general; How can one repay a friend for giving sense to life ?

  7. Toby, as always I couldn't agree more! Spot on. You must let me here from you more often-craving your input. Gaye

  8. Ivan, your photography and the level you bring to it are the greatest return gift. Your blog and the generosity you exude is another way-so impressive. I try to give whatever advice I can to readers or bloggers that contact me, as my mother always told me-we never know when we will say or do something to spark someone's creativity, imagination or talent. It is a way of thanking our mentors, our champions- hoping in some small way to return a tiny portion of what we have benefited.
    You return next week- for another post- I think you will really love it! Gaye

  9. I love no rules when it comes to decorating and I often think it makes for a better room not to be a "formal" decorator. Love what you love, be original, and true to the eye. Lovely post and I always learn so much from you. Thanks!

  10. Gaye, I am in awe of your generous spirit and great heart -- as well as your eye, which is a brilliant, brilliant one indeed -- and I wish I could tell you how much I am just crazy about what you do.

    How lucky we are, also, for the marvelous, magical way you share Ivan's brilliance (yes, I can't think of a better word for the two of you, so it's repeated again; there are surely many good ones, and they all apply, but right now BRILLIANT is all I can realize). Two generous and gifted souls are you!

    I am gobsmacked by what you do and the grace with which you do it. And Eternally grateful, honestly. Just amazingly grateful for the beauty you bring to us, remind us of, introduce us to. And the loving way in which you do it.


  11. thank you for this introduction!

    and ivan, such amazing photos as always.

    all the best,
    davi john

  12. David I just reworked my blog favourites and have YHBHS there- I really enjoy your ideas, though I will say I don't always get it all-I hope this is part of the exchange-going beyond the written word and creating one's own thought process. Gaye

  13. Gaye --

    You express so eloquently what I've always admired about Carolina's style. I absolutely agree with the other commentators who noted your generosity and sharp insights! Thanks too for sharing Ivan's images of the less seen -- less seen in the blogosphere at least -- apartment. It's magical.



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